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Should I anneal metal before cutting discs?

Question

“Should I anneal my metal before using a disc cutter even if I am using 24ga? I have a micro butane torch…I am assuming this torch could not anneal a large piece of sheet metal and I would need to cut out a portion.”

Answer

The chances are, that your 24g metal came annealed (or soft).  When I order metal, I usually purchase soft, not hard or half-hard metal.  The sheet metal almost always gets work hardened during the jewelry construction process anyway.

It is fine to cut 24g without annealing as it is pretty thin.  Don’t forget to lubricate the cutter. Don’t forget eye protection!  Lubricating the cutter keeps the cutter sharp longer. It is also makes it easier to cut your discs.

cutting-edge-of-disc-cutter  The cutting side of the Pepe Premium Disc Cutterhammering-side-of-disc-cutter  The hammering side of the Pepe Premium Disc Cutter.  Your disc cutter may look different.

 

You can rub a little beeswax around the sharp edge of the cutter, or paint Liquid Bur Life on with a paint brush.  Vegetable oil, sewing machine oil, 3-in-one oil, etc. will work fine. Avoid WD-40 as it can be corrosive.

Because of the lubrication the discs, that you’ve cut out, will need to be cleaned before soldering.  They will be oily.  I torch mine for several seconds, quench and pickle.  You can also use a soft toothbrush, a good degreasing dish detergent, like Dawn or Dr. Bronner’s (less toxic to the planet and you) and really hot water.  Pumice powder or Bon Ami will also clean the metal.  Make a paste, of the Bon Ami or pumice, with a touch of water and a small pile of the powder.

If your butane torch can’t anneal a large sheet, cut your metal first and just anneal the pieces you’ve cut.  I use the Sharpie method to tell when the metal has reached annealing temperature: mark the metal with the Sharpie and when it disappears (there is a shadow of the line left) it’s annealed.